Thursday, January 21, 2016

Um . . . Purple

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I don't deny it.  I'd like to be more popular.  Being more popular would increase the readership, it would create more comments and it would sell more books.  I know that one way to being more popular is to fill out popularity applications like the one above - because it helps the reader better know me as a "person."  It helps humanize me and reduces my personality or nature to a stack of comprehensible, friendly identifiers.

"You like red dragons?  Cool.  I like red dragons too!"  And so on.

The real trick to achieve popularity would be to research which are the most popular answers on the internet and then claim to like those specific things.  This is called marketing.  For example, when I searched the phrase "I love bearded dragons," I produced 12,000 results, whereas when I searched "I love sexy dragons," I only got 3.  So obviously, I don't love sexy dragons.  At all.

What we like matters to many people.  Once, I lost a girl "friend" because I admitted I did not like David Bowie all that much.  I liked some of his work, I felt he did a fair job as an actor in some films, notably the forgotten Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (that I have not heard mentioned once in the recent stream of consciousness about the performer), but I didn't rank Bowie as the greatest singer of all time and I had very little to say about his astounding, mind-blowing influence on the history of popular music.  This was the wrong thing to say and the girl left me.  Obviously, I stopped saying bad things about David Bowie.

So we should remember than in describing our favorite cursed item, die or construct, there is an implied judgment waiting regarding our answer.  Mind now, this judgment will not be cast upon why you like a particular die or what traumatic experiences you've had regarding all the other dice, because what die you like is a matter of such subjective, visceral preference that there's no possibility of an believable intellectual or personal framework can be applied.  The whole point to learning what we express as our favorite die is to circumvent all that annoying human complexity and strike for the heart of our reason for asking:  are you a good person or are you a bad person.

Nuance, such as my mixed feelings regarding a pop singer whose best work was achieved when I was 8 (and therefore slightly before my time), is irrelevant.  Do you like this random thing that I have just asked?  If you do, you are a good person.  If you don't, you are a bad person.  Unless I've pulled a fast one on you and you're not sure if I'm asking because I hate this thing or like this thing.

Let me find a d30 and roll it.  There, number 25 - Favorite Magic Item.

To be honest, I really don't care.  I do enjoy that there are many different magic items, for it makes interesting associations during a given adventure and vastly increases the number of random events that might occur due to a device working or not, how long it works, how effective it is and so on, compared to the number, power, nature or social structure of the enemy.  I like that there are a lot of different kinds of magic items that act for differing lengths of time, that affect characters differently, that empower or weaken characters, that cost to use or are fleeting, etcetera.

Yet I've never sat down to rank them.  I suppose that the logical thing is to think, as we did when we were younger, "If my character could have any one magic item, what would it be?"  Well, that does depend on the character class, but we can say fighter because its the most common and what the hell, everyone can relate to a fighter.

The problem with arguing that the best thing would be a +5 suit of armor or a +5 weapon is that the actual amount of "+" is arbitrary.  Why not a +6 weapon?  Why not a +35 weapon?  Why not a weapon that simply can't miss, or does so much damage that it kills not only the monster being attacked, but the monster next to it?  Why not say, "I want a weapon that when I hit with it, it kills the monster and the monster's whole family?"  Or for that matter, the monster's village, all villages in the monster's realm, all villages everywhere, whole continents or the planet itself?  Now that would be a magic item.

I'd have to argue that the best (favorite) magic item would be the one I earned.  The one with a good story behind it, that I got by the skin of my teeth when I thought the whole party was going to die but I managed to pull it out of the fire at the last moment and this - this simple +1 mace that I got at 3rd level - is my most precious item.  I've had chances for other items because I'm 12th now, but somehow I just don't care that much.  It's okay if Christopher or Pauline wants to pick up something nice for their characters - and maybe someday I'll upgrade, but for now I think the mace is lucky.

Ah, who am I kidding.  Players never think like that.

I surrendered ideas like having a favorite anything around the time I stopped thinking of myself as a kid.  I will tell people that crab is my favorite food - but this is a lie, since the crab has to be cooked right and it has to be nearer to the sea than where I'm living just now, while I can't eat crab all the time anyway and a really well-cooked almond-and-sundried tomato stuffed pork can easily blow my doors off.  Food is just food - it is well-cooked or its not, and if it is well-cooked I don't care what it is.  Unless it's Brussels sprouts.  That shit is just nasty.

I completely accept if the reader feels that Brussels sprouts are their favorite food.  I'm not judging anyone.

Change is good.  Change is better than having favorites.  Moreover, it shouldn't matter what players prefer - I should be giving out magic items or anything else on the basis of what makes sense, not on what is my favorite thing.  Most times, I believe DMs give out a certain kind of monster or treasure, or use a certain kind of trap, because they're lazy and it's the first thing that comes to mind.  My favorite colour is . . . purple.  That is, it's the first colour I thought of.  And my cup is purple.  My cup that has coffee in it.  Which I don't prefer to tea, it just happens to be what I'm drinking just now.  Tea drinkers, please don't be offended.  And people who like the colour yellow are okay, too.

Oh, and I feel sad for David Bowie's loss.  I truly do.


Tim said...

Got a good chuckle out of this. In a funny way, your answer does say a lot about you, and the nuance can be divided up by people saying "I like how he's aware of the nuance," and other people who say "What is your problem just pick a thing." There's no escape from reduction.
Reminds me of how people talk about being a "fan" of something. Like you have to choose whether you are in The Fan Club or not to enjoy something, and then once you declare yourself to be in The Fan Club you now are fanatically obligated to buy merchandise, ask people if they are aware of that something and socially ostracize anyone who doesn't see the appeal of that something. It's very tribal.

Ozymandias said...

Very tribal. I recently admitted to a friend that, while I enjoy the Harry Potter movies, I feel that they're not exactly "good." They're successful at reaching their audience; they're entertaining; and I have kids, so there's another level of joy to be achieved. But they have many flaws that prevent them from ever being "good" in an objective sense. Yet God forbid anyome should ever hold an opinion that's more nuanced than "black or white..."

kimbo said...

Ah, the social sorting algorithm based on what you say as preference and opinion rather, than the blasphemies of acheivement or ability. Never quite understood the need for in-ing and out-ing. but the phenomena seems to be a default of human psyche, the intensity of feeling is so high because the stakes are so very low... Sayre's law.

LTW said...

These sort of things are rampant among tweens trying to determine whom others think they aught to be. I am going to spend some time looking through the tao to try and find a post about: "giving out magic items or anything else on the basis of what makes sense" This is something that I always question and re-question my self on.

JB said...

I was only a polite fan of Brussels sprouts until some mid-westerners fed me an absolutely delicious dish of baked sprouts mixed with bacon and other sundries. Changed my mind...and, yes, change IS good.

[are Brussels sprouts originally from Brussels?]